The sluggish economy and wild gasoline prices have had a positive effect on at least one thing: entry-level sport motorcycle sales. Lower MSRPs, excellent fuel economy, less expensive insurance all mixed with good looks, seem to be the recipe for success.
Yamaha’s new 2009 FZ6R has arrived at precisely the right time; packed with a more torque-filled 600cc inline cylinder engine, the latest SOQI suspension, sleek full fairing, tuned under belly exhaust and all for a lower price, this particular motorcycle seems set for sales success.
The styling cues may come from the more advanced R6 sibling, but less-experienced non track-oriented riders will appreciate the low seat height, upright handlebars, easy handling, ample brakes, smooth engine and manageable power, for daily commuting or just plain getting out and having fun. What this motorcycle lacks in gut wrenching acceleration, it makes up for with smooth, usable power. For sure, this bike appeals to the more entry-level riders but we found this motorcycle to be more than capable in the corners and in a straight line.
Upon mounting the new FZ6R on a brisk February morning, you quickly settle-in to the comfortably upright riding position. The all-in-one gauge package, with analog tachometer and digital speedometer, are in clear sight and add to the quality feel of the bike. The seat and handlebar placement puts you in an at-ease, yet ready-for-action position. Both items are adjustable to accommodate different rider sizes and preferences; this feature may be helpful for taller or shorter riders trying to find the right fit.
Riding the FZ6R was pleasant as the engine runs smoothly and is relatively quiet. Entry-level through advanced intermediates will find the acceleration anywhere from intimidating to ‘about right’. The engine delivers more low-end torque but less top-end than the FZ6, which makes for a more enjoyable ride. As with most 600s, learning to utilize the full rev-range, up to nearly 12,000 rpms, will ensure you get the most that this package has to offer.
The steel frame, solid mount engine and in-house Yamaha SOQI suspension provide excellent stability over bumps and through sweeping corners. The switch from the 180 to the narrower 160-rear tire imparts easier steering, cornering and overall maneuverability. The two-piston front calipers don’t necessarily look impressive on paper, but they worked well under full stopping power and while trail-braking into corners. The individual items of this well thought out package were all extremely able-bodied and combined to work seamlessly together.
The FZ6R is a motorcycle that sports an aggressive look, ample wind protection, responsive handling and 43 mpg (nearly rivaling the Toyota Prius) making for an affordable yet very enjoyable ride–perfect for back and forth to the college campus, commuting to the office, or a two-up ride to the mountains. The new 2009 FZ6R is now available in dealerships nationwide with a starting MSRP of $6,990. The motorcycle is available in Team Yamaha Blue/White, Pearl White, Cadmium Yellow and Raven.
Helmet: Icon Airframe Claymore Slayer
Jacket: Icon Victory Hero
Gloves: Icon Tarmac 3
Pants: Icon Victory Dark Wash
Shoes: Icon Tarmac
Photos by Riles & Nelson